Thursday, 28 February 2013

Youth gets its chance, now can Fraser thrive?

Eddie Howe talked about how the current squad is having to take on players that have had experience in the Championship already in sides like Sheffield Utd, Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers. While we do have some players with similar experiences it should not be over looked that AFCB do have a fairly youthful squad and they are learning all the time.

It won't have escaped anybodies attention that Ryan Fraser has managed to feature in the last two matches for the side coming on in his favoured position of right winger. Ryan is now on a three year contact with the Cherries having signed for a fee of £400,000 in the January window. He only turned 19 four days ago, sorry I forgot to say happy birthday a few days ago Ryan! And yet he was prepared to make a huge move away from his Aberdeen roots to the south coast in an attempt to play for our team, as he believes it has Championship promise. 

While Ryan will be hoping to extend the 24 minutes of playing time that he has had so far when the team go to Leyton Orient at the weekend, he has some tough competition for the remaining games of the season. That is unlikely to concern him though having made his first team debut for Aberdeen against Heart of Midlothian at the age of just 16. We back him to make a start during the Cherries run-in.

While Ryan has been winning some playing time, I can't help but think that Donal McDermott, who is also a young dynamic midfielder at the club, has been a bit unlucky not to get more match experience this season. Still, Donal's stats say that he has made eight appearances and six of these were as a sub. While he hasn't got on the scoring sheet this season he has made two assists. I hope his development continues here as I think fans will be excited about both players perhaps one day playing together, one on the right wing and perhaps one in the hole.

If AFCB can develop these and other young players in the squad to relish the opportunity they have and to enjoy what time they get on the pitch, the future looks bright for the Cherries.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Testing times: Coventry inflict another defeat on Cherries

Match Description
AFC Bournemouth  0 v 2 Coventry
Match Attendance: 7411 (727 away)

For those of a nervous disposition, look away now. If AFCB were a marathon runner it is fair to say that we might be feeling the effects of hitting the wall at the 18 mile mark or as a cyclist in the Tour De France, we would have scaled the Pyrenees in style only to find that the road to Paris was like wading through mud. Yes you guessed it, AFCB tumbled to their third defeat in a row last night and having failed to score in their last three matches. The Cherries are finding that it's not  hard in this league to give everything and still come up short.
The Cherries kicked off trying to score at the Steve Fletcher stand end. But the game took a while to get going as Coventry's Dickinson had a blood injury, courtesy of a Fogden elbow, early on that took five minutes to sort out. However, by the end of the night it was the Cherries who had been given a bloody nose.

Bournemouth were set up in a 4-4-2 formation with a change of team - see my earlier post - as Eddie Howe tried to get back to winning ways. It was Coventry who made the early running. Leon Clarke and McSheffrey were getting the ball for Coventry early on. Yet, Tubbs had a good left footed strike on 14 minutes, although he was pulled back for off-side. McQuoid was blazing up the left and Grabban missed a great chance that Fogden laid off to him with a header on the quarter hour mark that was fired over the bar.  

I was listening to Cherries player as I could not make the game and had Willo examining the game in every detail, while I was trying to keep up with the Cherries Match blog and various fans' opinions on Twitter. On BBC Solent Willo commented that if the pitch is not great why do we play out from the back? He had a point as our boys were finding it difficult to control the ball on the hard and bouncy pitch.

Fogden was playing well on the right, but Tubbs kept getting caught off-side. Tubbs did get a one on one but slid it wide of the goal on 20 minutes, after Dickinson gifted him a header. Coventry then made a chance with Christie bursting past McQuiod and Moussa had a shot well saved by Jalal who recovered before Clarke could get in. Josh McQuoid was in on goal a few minutes later but his shot was harmlessly deflected safely to the keeper. 

Then it all went wrong. Cook and Seaborne were having a relatively quiet first half, but they got confused with Leone Clarke getting past them and, before you knew it, he had slammed the ball into the roof of the net from 15 yards and Bournemouth were one nil down! It was totally against the run of play, in stoppage time. Arter then managed to pick up a yellow card! That's certainly 10 cards now and a two match suspension for him. Not a great first half for us.

The Cherries fired in quick corners in succession virtually all night, but Coventry were strong on the break. Jalal had to make a good save from Clarke after 54 minutes as the defenders went missing again. It was turning into an open game with both sides being stretched. 

AFCB had four good chances in the first 20 minutes had not really tested Murphy since then in the Coventry goal. Matt Ritchie then picked up a yellow on 63 minutes and Pitman and Fraser came on for Tubbs and Fogden with 20 minutes to go. 
Coventry also brought on Bell for McSheffrey. Grabban and McQuoid had chances with 15 minutes to go, then Fraser was unlucky with a goal attempt. AFCB kept trying with Steve Fletcher coming on with 10 minutes to go to replace McQuiod and Fraser switching to the left. 

However, the game virtually ended when Coventry won a free kick against Ritchie for lying on the ball. The decision bemused home fans, but worse was to come. Grabban was accused of hand ball from the resulting free kick and Baker took the penalty in the 84th minute and scored. A couple of AFCB corners followed but it was not going to be our night. Moussa was taken off for Edjenguele near the end. Even at the death the Cherries had an effort cleared off the line.

I felt before the Sheffield, Coventry, Orient and Doncaster games that AFCB would need six points from them to stay in the mix, now it is really a hard task. Howe remains defiant that we have quality players and that things will turn around, but we can't seem to get enough shots on target at the moment and we are making sloppy mistakes at the back. 

Talking about the sides' current form and the players brought in to the team for the game, Eddie said: ''It doesn't concern me, because I know the quality I've got. I expect people to write us off. We believe we are a good side and one of the best in this league....We are in it together. He added that, "We are in uncharted territory for this club. To achieve something at the end of the season would be rare."

I have not given player ratings for this match as I was not at the game but Ritchie seemed to be the best candidate for AFCB according to BBC Solent. Bournemouth are now seventh in League One and outside the top six on goal difference.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cherries starting line up for Coventry City game

Eddie Howe made some changes to the Cherries personnel for the Coventry which was perhaps one of his more surprising starting selections. Out went Brett Pitman, Pugh and Painter and in came Wes Fogden, Josh McQuoid and Matty Tubbs, with Ritchie retaining his place in the side at left back. Many like me would have expected Macca, Pugh and Pitman to start, but Eddie clearly felt that things needed to be freshened up after two defeats in a row.  Marc Pugh had not been at his best in my opinion since his flu and perhaps needed more of a rest as he was not even on the bench. Eddie Howe later said in a post-match interview that Marc was out because of a stiff neck and was unable to play. Arter was also available for selection despite my worries about his yellow card count.

Full team: Jalal, Francis, Cook (Captain), Seaborne, Ritchie, McQuoid, Arter, O'Kane, Fogden, Grabban, Tubbs

Subs: Allsop, Partington, Hughes, MacDonald, Fraser, Fletcher and Pitman

Cherries seek winning formula for Sky Blues' visit

Eddie Howe has some big thinking to do ahead of tonight's home game against Coventry City. He has to find  a solution that will get the team back to winning ways. To some extent his choices for selection will be more limited for this match if, as I think, Harry Arter has a two match suspension following his accumulated yellow card count (although it only says he has 9 on the club website). If Arter can't be selected it would mean that there would be changes in midfield and having been rested at the weekend it would not be unsurprising to see Macca come back into the team. If O'Kane is still feeling heavy legged I would be tempted to rest him after his performance against Sheffield Utd. That would mean adding the more defence minded Richard Hughes into midfield.

Before everyone says this would not be creative enough, lets look at the problems Eddie has at the back. Painter has not given the team the stability it so needed at left back so far and if we play 442 you can expect Matt Ritchie to be asked to fill in again at left back as he has done nothing wrong when playing there. If Macca comes in, and O'Kane is not rested, McQuoid could play on the right and the rest of the team would be as it was against Sheffield. I expect Ryan Fraser to get at least 20-30 minutes tomorrow but I'm not sure if Eddie will start with him. He looked lively on Saturday on the few occasions he got the ball.

An option that might be considered with the personnel available is to go three at the back with Seaborne on the left, Cook in the middle and Francis on the right. Macca and Hughes could protect the back three and we could have Pugh on the left of midfield and Ritchie on the right. This would the give the Cherries the opportunity to play McQuoid, O'Kane or Fogden in the hole behind the front two of Pitman and Grabban. Would this give us more of the creativity that was lacking on Saturday?

To be honest I expect Howe to stay with 442 and keep O'Kane in the team, as Coventry will probably play two up front. But if this happens we have to play with more attacking intent than we did against Sheffield Utd. It's the injuries to Tommy 
Elphick and Charlie Daniels that is really hurting us at the moment, but the other players have got to step up in their absence. Here's hoping whatever Eddie Howe does he gets it right and we are sitting more comfortably having gained another three points by the end of the night. UTCIAD.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sky Blues will be another stiff test for the Cherries

In the space of just four days the Cherries take on another of the top placed sides in this season's League One as a rejuvenated Coventry City visit the Goldsands Stadium. Coventry have seen a resurgence of form of late as they followed Bournemouth up the league under the direction of Mark Robins who they parted company with this month when he left for Huddersfield Town. But last time out caretaker manager Lee Carsley saw the Sky Blues narrowly lose at home to Crewe Alexandra. Crewe had also won through to the JPT final 3:2 on aggregate against Coventry only just three days before their league encounter this Saturday.

Coventry will be desperate to revitalise their promotion challenge having slipped to eighth place, just two places behind the Cherries who are also in need of a win following their only home defeat since Eddie Howe's return to the club.

Coventry's turnaround in the season had largely been helped by the goals of David McGoldrick, but the Cherries will be pleased that he returned to Nottingham Forest in the January transfer window. In his loan spell at Coventry McGoldirck scored 16 goals in 22 games. Without the services of McGoldrick, Carsley has had to fall back on the strike force of Leon Clarke (8 goals) and Stephen Elliott (4 goals), but midfielder Carl Barker has also weighed in with a hefty eight goals this season.

Aaron Martin is also set to line up against the Cherries in Coventry's back line at centre half following his recent loan move from the Saints. It will be Martin's debut for Coventry as he missed the Crewe game through a hamstring injury. I'm sure the Saints man will receive a warm welcome at Dean Court!

I've also heard that striker Cody McDonald has been recalled by Coventry from Gillingham loan so he is likely to play a part in tomorrow's game.

Meanwhile, Coventry City are in a rental areas dispute with Arena Coventry Ltd who say they are owed £1.3m in back rent from the Sky Blues and have managed to freeze the club's bank accounts to try and force a settlement.

Betting for the next permanent Coventry City manager is currently very close between Phil Brown, Lee Carsley, Keith Curle and John Pemberton.

Coventry's League form: DWLWL

Views around the Goldsands Stadium - Sheffield Utd game

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sheffield Utd win ugly but deservedly

Match Report

AFCB V Sheffield Utd 0:1 
23 February 2013
Attendance 8497
(included 1177 away supporters)

Sheffield Utd supporters arrive at the Goldsands Stadium
It was a cold and crisp Saturday afternoon at Dean Court for the highly anticipated top of the league clash between the second placed Cherries and the Blades who sat in fourth place before kick-off. Cherry supporters knew how important this tie was to win and it was also clearly evident to both sets of players that a win today could put either one of them at the top of the league if other results went their way.
Players greet each other before kick-off 

The game started with opportunities for both sides to score early on as the contest began in a fairly open and expansive fashion with Sheffield kicking towards the Steve Fletcher stand in all white. After three minutes, Dave Kitson nodded a ball on to Barry Robson on the left wing and he thundered the ball against the bar from outside the 18 yard box with Jalal well beaten. It was a warning that fired the Cherries into action as Grabban raced through on five minutes one-on-one with the Sheffield keeper only to see his shot cleanly saved and pushed wide for the first Cherries corner of the game. It was a set piece favourite with the first runner stepping over the ball for Arter to run on to and he came close to opening the scoring.

Sheffield then began to take control and Eddie Howe started barking out orders from the dug out as the visitors won a couple of corners in a row. Sheffield pressure continued when the referee gave a further contentious corner after 15 minutes which had the home crowd screaming in disapproval at the poor decision. It was a scene that repeated itself many times throughout the game. 

While Ritchie has a shot saved shortly after the quarter hour mark it was Kitson that was winning lots of headers and setting up play for the Blades in the Cherries half. When Grabban was booked after 18 minutes, Sheffield took the free kick and hit a cross ball towards Bournemouth's left side and Painter slipped over at the vital moment letting in Jamie Murphy who smashed his shot against Bournemouth's left hand post only for the ball to rebound kindly into the forward's path so that he could put the Blades one nil up.

Sheffield continued to come forward after the restart and Tony McMahon fired over as the assistant referee and referee ignored all shouts of off-side. The home crowd were by this time getting more and more angry at the referee Mr Sutton who was having a shocker. Ritchie and Pugh began to feed some crosses in but nothing was coming off for the Cherries in the final third with ball being hit too long and the sand-laden pitch not making for a smooth playing surface. Indeed, the aerial ability and more physical style of Sheffield's play seemed more suited to conditions. While Bournemouth tried to play their patient passing game our midfield couldn't create any quality threatening moves. Meanwhile, the home crowd grew more quiet and dissatisfied with the officials.

The Steve Fletcher stand saw Sheffield take the spoils in a scrappy encounter

The second half saw Eddie Howe try to liven things up from the start by taking Painter off and moving Ritchie to left back, while McQuoid came on to take up a position on the right wing. Bournemouth began the second period fairly well winning a few early corners, but Sheffield were playing a spoiling game and preventing the Cherries from getting any rhythm going. 

There was a confrontation when Pitman went down some eight minutes into the second half but to the home fans consternation nothing was given. This was turning into a  messy affair which suited the Blades' big, hefty centre backs. Maguire was hoovering everything up at the back for Sheffield and was having a great game at centre back. While for the Cherries, O'Kane was giving the ball away too frequently in midfield. Even when Bournemouth thought their was a strong handball claim on 61 minutes the ref waved the players away. The Cherries were by now making a few mistakes with Cook heading the ball into the path of the opposition in front of the Cherries D and more passes were going awry.

Ryan Fraser made his home debut on 66 minutes when Pitman was subbed and McQuoid went up front. Soon after Grabban was replaced by Tubbs. We only saw one moment of skill from Fraser on the right but sadly he slipped after he had convincingly beaten his man. That was about as good as it got for the Cherries as the Blades easily saw time out. Home fans were left to vent their frustration at the referee the end of the game, but it was't a day when Bournemouth were anywhere near their best and a lot of that has to be down to how Sheffield Utd played.

It was a disappointing day for the Cherries but these games are won and lost on small margins. One mistake was all it needed in a game that ended up not seeing hardly any goal scoring opportunities. My man of the match for Bournemouth was Dan Seaborne who looks more and more comfortable and assured at the back. I wanted to see Francis and Pugh deliver more crosses and I felt the midfield did not provide enough quality to really hurt the opposition while Grabban and Pitman had little to feed off. Let's hope for better on Tuesday. The table still looks very close.

Player Ratings
Jalal (6), Francis (6), Cook (5), Seaborne (7), Painter (4), Ritchie (6), Arter (6), O'Kane (5), Pugh (6), Grabban (5), Pitman (5)

Subs: McQuoid (5), Fraser (6), Tubbs (5)   Not used: Allsop, Hughes, MacDonal Fogden 

Booked Graban and Arter

Sheffield Utd fans cheer their team on to victory as the blades go top of the Table

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Cherries' devastating wingers aim to blunt the Blades

Sheffield United can expect to come under severe pressure at Dean Court on Saturday with Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh expected to be in the Cherries' starting line up. They are arguably the two best wingers in League One and both of them have an eye for goal.

Marc Pugh has scored eight goals so far this season from his customary left wing position and has already stated that he expects to reach double figures, which he has managed in recent seasons. Marc was struggling to catch his breath last weekend when he played despite not having fully recovered from a cold. This week he should be stronger and no doubt keen to help the Cherries to another three points. 

Matt Ritchie is yet to open his account for the Cherries but he has only played once on the right wing so far, last time out against Preston. Home supporters are awaiting a treat as Matt Ritchie has shown how he can dominate matches from the wing when he played for Swindon and, with the Cherry support behind him, he is likely to be a threat all afternoon as he looks to net his first goal for AFCB.

Bournemouth are the top goal scorers in League One and their wing play has been instrumental in their rapid rise up the table. Eddie Howe has two great trump cards in his wingers who will surely have a big say in what happens in the big clash at the top-end of the table tomorrow.

Bournemouth have the second best record at home for goals conceded at just 13 and have lost only once at home, scoring 31 goals in the process. However, worried AFCB fans might think they should feel against a top side like Sheffield Utd, the Blades will know that their defence will face its sternest examinations of the season when Ritchie and Pugh step out to run the lines tomorrow.

I hope you are all looking forward to the game and get behind the lads from the very first whistle until the last. Let's raise the roof on Saturday. Up the Cherries!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Flying Blades next up at Dean Court

The Cherries will need to be on top form when they take on Sheffield Utd on Saturday. The Blades have recently returned to form having won their last three league fixtures against Shrewsbury, Bury and Colchester. Having closed the gap at the top of the table and with a run of back to back away wins behind them, Sheffield Utd will not come to the south coast thinking that a draw is the best that they can achieve.

History also tells us that AFCB do not have a good record against them. When the teams last met at Bramall Lane on 1st September 2012, AFCB came out on the wrong side of an eight goal thriller. Ryan Flynn was the Cherries chief tormentor on that day with his brace from midfield, although the winger has only netted one other league goal this season.

In the 2011/12 season the Blades took all six points from both games, so recent encounters between the two teams have all favoured Utd. Will things will be different this time round I ask myself?

Bournemouth have to get over the hurdle of beating the big name sides in this division if they are to make their ambition of promotion a reality. The table could be looking very different if the Cherries could have done better than draw with Brentford and Swindon when they both visited the Goldsands Stadium. We have heard Eddie Howe saying that the team were slow out of the traps last week, but I don't see that repeating itself on Saturday. The Cherries will be going all out to get the three points, so that they can go into the Coventry and Leyton Orient games with renewed confidence.

The big threats to the Cherries will be the striker pairing of Dave Kitson who has scored eight league goals in this campaign and Jamie Murphy who signed from Motherwell in January and is yet to open his account for the Blades. Also be aware of Kevin McDonald who broke his duck in front of goal last time out against Colchester Utd. With eight away wins this season, only Doncaster and Coventry have better away records. And while January was Sheffield Utd's worst month, Danny Wilson has turned results around and will certainly be a candidate for manager of the month if the Blades can get something at Bournemouth.

This match is a difficult one to call, but some of my tweeter guests are brave enough to have ago (see side bar). If you want to post a score prediction you can do so on the comments section below or tweet me your scores at @peterbell19

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

How badly do we miss Tommy Elphick?

This is a question that is beginning to gain whispers along the terraces at Dean Court despite the sides' fabulous current position in League One. At the start of the season Tommy Elphick was a newcomer to the Cherries having signed on 13 August 2012, but he has rapidly gained a reputation of being one of our most consistent performers. His characteristic pre-match routine of running up to the goal posts under the Steve Fletcher Stand, to grasp the left upright and to calm himself before the start of a home match, has been sorely missed by the Cherries faithful in recent weeks.

Since Miles Addison has been out injured in the 2-2 draw against Bury FC at the end of November, Tommy had been given the captain's armband and he had proved to be an inspired choice and a real leader on the pitch. He formed a great partnership with Steve Cook in the centre of defence that helped the Cherries to that record club run of 15 League One undefeated matches, earlier in the season. But ever since that horrible tackle that MK Dons' Ryan Lowe carried out on Tommy, at the start of February, AFCB fans have held their breath in hoping to see Tommy running back out on the pitch, as if he might seemingly make a miraculous recovery over night.

The team has undoubtedly missed his leadership on the pitch. He would have been one to roll up his sleeves for the game against Preston North End, last weekend, when the Cherries did not seem like themselves. Eddie Howe could certainly do with him back now with important games coming up against Sheffield Utd, Coventry and Doncaster. 

However, the Echo has recently reported that Tommy Elphick is likely to miss all these big header games and may not return to training for another two to four weeks. We can only hope that he is back at some point this season, because his presence could be the final piece in the puzzle to ensure that Bournemouth enter the last round of games as strong promotion contenders rather than just hanging on for a possible play-off place. I don't think I am alone in saying, "We look forward to Tommy making a return and seeing him on his 34th appearance for the Cherries."

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

It's a real scramble for points now

Simon Francis admitted this week that "it is a tight at league" this season. When you have eight clubs that are split by just eight points, between these sides after 31 to 33 matches played, you know it's a tight fight for promotion. But is that a good thing? Is our league a strong league or does it mean that sides are too inconsistent and prone to defensive mistakes? Should we blaming the managers or the players or are there other reasons for the league looking the way it does at the moment?

If you look at the managerial changes in the division it is quite worrying how many teams have changed their managers in the last 12-18 months, but many of them seem to have been for the better. Yes, you can say Eddie Howe and Bournemouth are the clear winners in this respect, but you have to say men that know there club inside out are the ones that are heading up the league this year. Roonnie More at Tranmere who only returned to the club last March for his third go at the job. Yeovil too went back to a tried and trusted solution in Gary Johnson who returned last January to help out Terry Skiverton. Of course changes haven't worked for every club immediately when you look at Colchester, Portsmouth (perhaps a special case any way) and Scunthorpe, I expect you could name some others as well. Be warned Swindon Town - oh, too late.

Many of the clubs that were leading the way before the Christmas period have also dropped their form or rather others have stepped up their level. Those that have drifted include MK Dons, Stevenage, Notts County and Crawley but they are not so far to be out of the play-off places by the end of the season in my opinion. We are not quite at the run-in stage but a series of wins in February and March could still make the table look very different heading into April. The bottom teams will also be fighting for their lives so there are going to be one or two strange results to come.

I don't see this as a weakness that so many teams are still in with a chance of having something to play for well into the final part of the season. It means our league is very competitive and perhaps harder to get out of at the top than many would have imagined at the start in August. We haven't heard the much often quoted "It's a marathon, not a sprint" quote pulled out yet, but it will be used by at least one manager who tries to steady their ship after a series of defeats before we reach the last crucial games. The runners are preparing to enter the final few laps but someone will make a break that will split the leading pack. Let's just hope that AFCB are either making the move or have it covered.

If you are clever enough to know which three clubs are going to be promoted this year you have the chance to vote in the Cherry Chimes poll - over there on the side bar. I might just change my mind a few more times before AFCB go to visit Tranmere - well, you can't blame me for that can you?

Monday, 18 February 2013

Competition for places and home is support key for Cherries

While AFCB have not managed to build on going top of the division last week, the management is confident that the team can respond against the big challenges that are coming their way in the next few games. It is the defining part of the season when teams either go on a run to secure their place in the automatic and play-off positions or fall by the wayside. 

Where the Cherries are helped is in the strong squad that has now been assembled at Dean Court. For example, just take a look at the right wing position. There is going to be intense competition between Ritchie, McQuoid and Fogden for that place in the coming weeks and Ryan Fraser and Donal McDermott are further cover.

Of course the player that has been putting most of the crosses for the forwards to feed off on the right is Simon Francis, playing at right back. I must admit I wasn't always his biggest fan but he has made the right back place his own and continues to put a shift in every game. We have not been so fortunate recently at left back. Charlie Daniels is a big miss and it is a problem area, even if Ritchie played well there. Eddie Howe will I'm sure be working hard with Painter this week and Pugh in trying to get some under standing going. While Miles Addison has been out for a long while it would also help if he becomes available for selection again soon as this would give Eddie more options at the back, with perhaps Cook going to left back. Yes, I know Miles isn't everyone's cup of tea and there's no news of how he is doing yet.

With the side knowing that they can recover from defeats and with an unbeaten league home record that stretches back to the end of September, if you discount Wigan's victory in the FA Cup in January, there are reasons for Howe and Tindall to be confident that the Cherries can continue their push for promotion. It was Walsall who was the team to beat us last at home, if like me you had forgotten who it was. They have been a bit of a thorn in or side this season having done the double over the Cherries. Still the players will get over their recent defeat at Preston very quickly this week, because Eddie I'm sure won't allow it to play on their minds. They know three points is always massive at this stage of the season and that is the target now.

It's also down to the fans to help the team through this crucial period. Get any negative thoughts out of your head early this week, AFCB is still in a good position to challenge for honours. Sing up next Saturday. Our voices can give the Cherries confidence to go and beat Sheffield Utd, Coventry and Doncaster at home. We have to be up for these games as much as the players. We have to put these teams under pressure by supporting our team with real passion for 90 minutes and more - I for one expect to lose my voice at the Goldsands Stadium this month! I hope you do too.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

AFCB slip up at Preston

Match Description
Preston North End 2: 0 AFCB
16 February 2013

It was all going so well, wasn't it? The Cherries are still momentarily top of the league but they missed a great chance to extend their lead and put pressure on those just below having been rather out of sorts at Deepdale where a rejuvenated Preston side made a mockery of the League One table.

While the Cherry's side looked strong on paper they didn't get going against a determined Lillywhite team that had lost their manager last week. Howe made three changes to the team with O'Kane, MacQuoid and Hughes dropping to the bench. In came MacDonald, Painter and Pugh. Right from the start it was the home team that were making the running. Beavon was causing all kinds of problems for the Cherries defence and on 19 minutes he struck a shot from 20 yards out that put the Cherries one nil down. 

Things just weren't happening for the Cherries and after 31 minutes Preston went two up after Wright's toe poke found its way into the net. It went from bad to worse as Pugh was struggling and had to be subbed for O'Kane. Pitman dropped in to make a midfield five, with Macca just playing in front of the defence, but it didn't change the pattern of play.

At half time Eddie Howe made another change with Wes Fogden replacing Pointer and AFCB reverting to a 3-5-3 formation. Arter was tackling hard and managed to make a last gasp saving challenge when Hayhurst was bearing down on goal. Jalal was made to make a save from Beavon -  it was one way traffic. Even when Arter made way for Tubbs, just seven minutes into the second half, AFCB could not turn on the form that had propelled them to the top of the league. Late on in the second half Monakana, the Arsenal loanee, who had replaced Hayhurst, wove past three AFCB players as if they weren't there but drove his shot wide of Jalal's goal. The score could have been worse!

Macca came back into the team as he was fit and available while O'Kane had admitted that he was tired and heavy legged in the week, so Howe wanted to give him a breather. Eddie stressed that Pointer had not had any training with the team and that his inclusion gave the Cherries a chance to play Ritchie on the right wing instead of filling in at left back.

Howe remained optimistic although they were disappointed and would have to analyse the game. "We didn't expect to be in this position," he reminded everyone. "It's important that we respond in the right fashion."

Howe remained optimistic although they were disappointed and would have to analyse the game. "We didn't expect to be in this position," he reminded everyone. "It's important that we respond in the right fashion."
In his post match interview with BBC Solent Radio, Howe had to comment that: "We were not at our best today....Its not happened all season, but we were second best. It's the first time since coming back. We were slow out of the traps," he continued. "We had no concerted pressure on their goal." 

Howe reiterated that we have some massive games coming up and that the travel and poor pitch did not help the performance at Deepdale. "We have to think of our long term vision, it's no good looking back," he said. 

when asked about the changing formations Howe replied: "We tried to get a foothold in the game but we did not get to grips with their midfield. There were bigger things today that caused our downfall."

Keep the faith everyone. Two defeats in 22 games isn't bad going.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Back to business: Deepdale up next

Eddie Howe will be keen to bring players minds back to the task at hand this weekend after a glorious week when the Cherries hit top spot in the league for the first time this season. With Tranmere Rovers playing tonight against Shrewsbury it is likely that AFCB will be playing catch up once again on Saturday as they take on Preston North End who sacked Graham Westley earlier this week. John Dreyer has taken over as caretaker manager at Deepale and he will be looking to lift the Preston players as they take on the current league leaders. The Lillywhites have not won at home since September and are currently lying 17th in the division.

Preston's top scorers are midfielder Nicky Wroe, on 10 goals, and striker Stuart Beavon on 9. Wroe was bought by Graham Westley from Shrewsbury after their promotion winning season last year. Beavon has not quite managed to hit the form he had when he was playing for Wycombe but he is an experienced player at this level with excellent finishing accuracy on his day. Last time out Preston were on the wrong end of a 3-1 score line against high flying Yeovil, but Chris Beardsley was the Lillywhites' scorer so expect him to play a part in the game on Saturday.

Looking at Bournemouth's side, one would expect Eddie Howe to play the same team that did so well as Crewe on Tuesday. Marc Pugh may come into the team if he has fully recovered from his cold, while Grabban would start on the wing in Pugh's absence. Charlie Daniels is still sidelined with an ankle injury and the Cherries have acted in the loan market to bring in Marco Painter (26 year old) of Brighton - more on AFCB official website. The 1-4-1-4 formation enables Howe to play Richard Hughes in front of the back four and if the Cherries can counter quickly with their front players it seems to be a system that the team is comfortable with away from home, especially when we have a few players out from the usual starting line up. 

Tommy Elphick is unlikely to travel. The Cherries have hard games coming up against Coventry and Sheffield Utd in the next 10 days so Tommy might be keen to get some playing time before these crucial fixtures, but it is unlikely that will be the case.

We can now expect Matt Ritchie to play on the right wing. It is also quite possible though that the highly rated Ryan Fraser could make his AFCB debut as a substitute in this game and we look forward to that

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Jalal is back to his best

Shwan Jalal warms up at Dean Court
After Tuesday nights magnificent result for the Cherries it should not go unnoticed that the man of the match for our team was Shwan Jalal. The newly reinstalled number one goalie has always been a great shot stopper, but it is arguable that he is now back to his very best.

Shwan has had a long road to taking back the coveted keepers jersey. Since his excellent 2010-11 season when he helped the club to six position and into the play-offs, only to narrowly lose out against Huddersfield Town in a penalty shoot off, Jalal has gone through major back surgery and most of last season in rehabilitation to get back on the pitch. He had to look on while Darryl Flahavan continued to be the first choice of Lee Bradbury and while he started this season as the top keeper he had a difficult start when he let a simple shot under his nobody in the first game against Portsmouth FC. Again, when Paul Groves brought in David James he found himself out of favour. But Jalal has a fighting spirit and his inspiring FA Cup performances this season against Dagenham and Redbridge, Carlisle and Wigan have propelled him back into the first team.

Eddie Howe has always been keen to pick Jalal when he is in top form and right now he is playing as if he has been the No1 keeper for some time. His kicking seems to have improved and he has marshaled the newly constructed back four well in his last few games. They need him to be dominant in his six yard area and coming to take crosses. His confidence is growing and there were times on Tuesday night when you could see that with his quick decision making to come off the line.

On his latest interview on Cherries Player, Jalal says it is not the competition that is making him up his game but his own self-motivation to play at his best. Well keep doing what you are doing Shwan, because your standards are extremely high. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cherries reach the summit of League One with Pitman brace

Match Description
12 February 2013
Crewe Alexander 1 v 2 AFC Bournemouth

The Cherries have climbed up to top spot in League One following a night when they hung on for a hard fought victory against Crewe Alexander. It had all looked very different a few moments earlier when Progba had risen imperiously in the Cherries' box to put away an equalising header in the 79th minute, after Pitman had scored first for AFCB near the hour mark from the penalty spot. Indeed, it is Pitman that will grab all the headlines because his later winner off of Steve Cook's drilled cross in the 84th minute is what gave the Cherries all three points.

Brett Pitman running out against Portsmouth FC
Since his permanent move back to Dean Court from Bristol City Pitman has taken the responsibility of taking penalties for the Cherries. He has scored nine goals now this season and is starting to look to me that he is happy and finding his place in the team. He is not everyone's favourite among Bournemouth supporters, if the official AFCB match blog from last night is to be judged as a sample, but his keenness to take responsibility from dead ball situations makes him a valuable asset to this team. He has a habit of popping up and of doing the unusual to get his goals and he has that selfish streak which is so necessary in a top striker.

If both he and Lewis Grabban keep scoring a high ratio of goals then the gap between the Cherries and the following pack may start to grow. That's not to say that Eddie hasn't got some work to do. He will not be happy in the team not keeping a clean sheet last night even if Shwan Jalal made some great saves and for the rest of the game the defence had held the potent Crewe strike force at bay. Richard Hughes came into the team in Marc Pugh's absence and the Cherries set up with a solid and some might think not that ambitious 4-1-4-1 formation with Pitman leading the line and Grabban on the right wing.

There is still a long way to go but the table today looks good, doesn't it? My twitter account went bonkers just seconds after the game as Cherry fans tweeted their jubilation at the final score and the new look League One table. Dare we dream to think that we have Champions in our back yard all this time. Hold steady, we are in for a cracking climax to the season. And just in case you didn't hear, let me tell you –


Monday, 11 February 2013

Chasing Cherries could become the chased very soon

There is now a distinct possibility that the Cherries could reach the summit of League One within the next few days or weeks if they can continue on their latest winning run. While Eddie Howe has been saying for weeks that the club is playing catch up and that it hoped to sneak up almost unnoticed into a position where it was in contention, there is no doubt that the club is now threatening a raid on the top two automatic League One promotion places.

Pessimists may wonder would we be we hitting the front too early? Will the team run out of steam just when the ultimate goal of promotion is in sight? In the past I may have had similar concerns, but AFCB is a club that has been dealing with the pressure of being the big spenders in League One and has got to grips with that expectancy of both the home supporters and the fact that opponents see the Cherries as a big scalp these days.

Another factor that gives me optimism is that this team will not be happy to hang in for just a play-off place. They have been doing well against the top teams. A look at page 62 of this weekends' programme for the Pompey game shows that AFCB are ranked No 1 against the top half of the League teams - W6 D5 L5 and when scoring first they are ranked 7 - W13 D3 L1 and even ninth when conceding first W1 D6 L5. You can see why Eddie Howe says the first goal is so important - most games in this league are won by those who score first!
This team is not like the Cherries team that had to hang on to a top six place two seasons ago for a play-off place. They have the ability to push on and make this league theirs in my opinion. The coming weeks will see if they achieve this.

BBC Radio Solent were also asking John Williams on Saturday whether not to finish in the top two places this season and go up automatically would be a failure? Willo replied that he didn't think it would be a disaster if the Cherries did not get promoted this year as the investors had planned for either going up this season or next season. Ten games into this campaign it was hard to imagine that the Cherries could even make the top half or play-offs but they are well in the mix for top honours now.

Certainly a switch in mentality will be required if AFCB do start to sit at the top of the league. They will no longer be the chasers but the chased. It comes with its own pressure as we can see in Tranmere Rover's recent results. Doncaster Rovers too are finding it hard to get away at the top and it remains to be seen if AFCB can get there and focus on keeping a winning run of games.

Make sure you log your predictions as to which three teams you think will win promotion out of League One this season - see poll on the side panel. 

Views around the stadium: Pompey game

Sunday, 10 February 2013

AFCB step up a gear against Pompey

Match Report
Cherries 2: 0 Pompey
9 February 2013

Attendance: 9135 (highest of the season) 1338 visitors

AFCB and Portsmouth FC shake hands before kick-off

Eddie Howe was absolutely right when he suggested pre-match that Portsmouth FC would provide a very difficult opponent for the Cherries at home. Far from being a simple task for AFCB, they were made to up their game and prod and probe the Pompey back line for an opening, switching play from right to left and left to right before quickening the play and sending numerous crosses to test and examine Portsmouth's stern defence. While Bournemouth had a larger share of the possession in the first half, as they shot towards the Steve Fletcher stand, they were finding if difficult Pompey to break through Pompey's 4-4-2 set up. 

Pompey had three new signings for the game, Patrick Agyemang, Therry Racon and John Akinde. Their fans made themselves heard all game with superb musical drumming  and clanging accompaniment that went on even after the final whistle.

AFCB has its customary kick-off huddle with the packed away
section of Pompey fans looking on
Bournemouth lined up with the same players that started the second half at Milton Keynes.Charlie Daniels did not pass his morning fitness test and Tommy Elphick was still out after his knee injury from Ryan Lowe's challenge. That meant that Matt Ritchie filled in again at left back and Dan Seaborne moved across to left centre back, next to Steve Cook who was captain for the game. Simon Francis was in his customary right back position and the midfield was made up of Pugh, Arter. O'Kane and McQuoid. There was no room for MacDonald who was on the bench. Grabban and Pitman started up front.

Pugh fired over the bar in as early as the second minute and the intention from the start from the Cherries was to get on the front foot. But Pompey had come to the game with a plan to upset AFCB's slick passing and movement. They too whipped in a dangerous cross after six minutes but it was Bournemouth who were looking more comfortable on the ball. Grabban fired over on nine minutes from a Pugh cross and Ritchie's link up play had the home crowd spellbound in admiration of his good touch and positive passing. Ritchie looked calm and assured when pressed at the back and had an air of confidence when creating triangles with Pugh and Arter further up the pitch. I don't think he miss placed a pass all game. Grabban was making several dangerous darting runs in between the Pompey centre halves and right back and on 16 minutes he was right through and passed the keeper but was unable to direct his shot on goal at such speed.

Pompey came thundering back with an attempt on goal themselves. Agyemang tried an ambitious overhead kick just in side the AFCB box but pulled it well wide of the goal. Grabban and Pugh continued to create problems for Pompey. Johannes Ertl was also beginning to make his presence felt more and he tried to bypass the AFCB with a long cross ball to the left wing but Pompey couldn't keep the ball in play.
It was Pugh, Ritchie and Grabban that were running the show. Arter also popped up on the edge of the box supporting the play and had his shot that looked goal bound blocked on 34 minutes.

As we moved towards half time it was Portsmouth that started to get on the front foot. First Racon shot over Jalal's bar, then Adam Reed had Pompey's best chance when he forced Jalal into a save that went for a corner.

Francis also fed Pitman who saw his glancing header come off the bar as Bournemouth registered their closest effort on goal. AFCB certainly weren't having it all their own way though. Arter was brushed off the ball in the middle of the pitch by Akinde, only for Seaborne to come to the rescue.

The second half began with AFCB pressure, but Adam Reed was niggling at Arter and O'Kane in the midfield and forcing them to lose the ball on more than one ocassion and on 47 minutes Jalal was in action again as Akinde fired over. Agyemang then had a header go wide on 54 minutes and Dan Butler also came close on 59 minutes for Pompey. However, after this Pompey pressure and a couple of corners, AFCB broke up the right wing with McQuoid who crossed to Grabban in the box who steadied himself before firing into the bottom right of the goal to put the Cherries one up to rapturous home fan applause on 62 minutes.

Pompey's response was to make  two subs with Agyemang coming off for James Keene and Racon off for Jed Wallace. Pompey's line up resembled more of a 3-4-3 pattern now with Reed pushing up on the left. Keene won a corner in the 71st minute but the ball was fired over the bar. It was a scrappy period of play with Arter giving the ball away much to the displeasure of home fans, but when Pitman held up a ball midway between the half way line and Pompey's box he managed to hook it forward, which Pugh ran on to and he put away AFCB's second on 76 minutes. 

Matt Tubbs enterd the game in place of Grabban after 81 minutes and Pompey subbed Shaun Cooper for Liam Walker. Popmey were still fighting hard and Ritchie had to make a strong saving tackle in the 82nd minute. Arter then made way for Richard Hughes as AFCB looked to play out time. This was followed by MacDonald coming on for Pitman in extra time. The best chance for AFCB to seal the win with a bigger margin came in the 91st minute when Tubbs was one-on-one with the keeper but had his shot saved.

Post-match celebration for AFCB players and management

All in all, though it was a patient but profesional performance by the Cherries with Matt Ritchie my man of the match. AFCB are now just one point off the top of the league which is extremely tight at the top as they find themselves in fourth place. Next up Crewe Alexander away on Tuesday night.

Player Ratings: Jalal (8), Francis (7), Cook (8), Seaborne(7), Ritchie (9*), McQoid (7), Arter (7), O'Kane (7),  Pugh (8), Pitman (7), Grabban (8)

Bookings: Pompey's Butler and Reed

Used AFCB subs: Tubbs (81 for Grabban), Hughes (82 for Arter) and MacDonald (91 for Pitman) 

Referee: Mr A Marriner
Assitant linesman: Mr D Cann and Mr P Bankes

Friday, 8 February 2013

AFCB: could injuries reshuffle the pack?

There will no doubt be a full house for the visit of Portsmouth to the Goldsands stadium. I have my preferences for the AFCB starting line up but the injuries we have at the back do worry me a little. I truly hope that Charlie Daniels passes his morning pre-match fitness test as I would feel more confident with his return. I suppose Cook and Seaborne will be the centre backs even though Cook has not trained I believe this week. Francis should be okay on the right.

I get the distinct feeling that Eddie wants Macca to start rather than coming on from the bench and I wonder if O'Kane will be asked to make way as Eddie knows that Macca and Arter play well together. Bit harsh on O'Kane but I think Macca has showed Eddie enough in training if the Bournemouth Echo report is to be believed. Then I would expect Pugh to be on the left and the question is who will start on the right wing? Eddie will probably stay with Josh as he had such a good game against Crewe at home last time, but you would expect Matt Ritchie to make his home debut at some point during the game if he does not start at left back in place of Daniels.

Up front you would have to go with Pitman and Grabban. The team pretty well picks itself when injury free. I feel a bit sad that Foggy hasn't been able to get back into the first eleven and I feel he will find it increasingly more difficult to do so. I like his dynamo enthusiasm even if I would like him to beef up a bit. Perhaps he will get another cameo appearance. 

Overall, this time out I don't think the pack will be reshuffled too much.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Pompey's danger men

You would not be alone in scratching your head when considering who Pomey's dangerous players might be on Saturday? It has been virtually impossible for caretaker manager Guy Whittingham to field a consistent side in recent weeks with the off field financial problems that the club still finds itself in.

Indeed, the highly anticipated south coast derby match comes at a time when the fortunes of AFCB are in stark contrast to those of Portsmouth FC. But, don't think that a home win is a given. Yes, AFCB can be considered strong favourites, but there are one or two danger men that they will have to keep a close eye on if they are to achieve a positive result against a wounded Pompey side that can consider this as a special game.
My twitter friends also tell me that Pompey may have got a 32 year old, Patrick Agyemang,  from Stevenage FC on loan for the game, who could make his PFC debut. I guess there have been a few recently.

Other players brought in on loan in the last few hours include forward John Akinde (23) (unattached) and Millwall defender Therry Racon (28).

James Keene and Ashley Harris started out up front for Pompey in the last game against Scunthore away but the duo have only recorded three goals between them so far, Keene only having made about four appearances and netting once. Harris can be considered one of the old regulars having made almost 30 appearances for the side.

On the score sheet last time out against Scunthorpe was midfielder Liam Walker who is an international player for Gibraltar. It was his first professional goal. Liam only signed for the club in August 2012.

Of course AFCB will give a warm welcome to Shaun Cooper once again, having seen him line up against us twice now in as many months having played for Crawley earlier this season. In that game in late December, Bournemouth ran out comfortable 3:0 winners but that was not before we saw Shaun pop up at a corner in the first half only to shoot narrowly wide of the target, much to the home crowd's relief. Let's hope he does not get any nearer to scoring this time out.

Supporters will also probably recognise the Nigerian Sam Sodge at the back who has played for Reading and West Brom amongst other clubs, and signed for Pompey as a free agent last month.

No doubt the Pompey team will be a very different one from what we saw back in August in the first game of the season.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Eddie at the helm

It's been nice to feel rather safe and secure with Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall returning to the AFCB dugout last Autumn. The idea of them leaving again in the near- to mid-future hasn't crossed my mined and I don't expect it to for a long time yet. Nothing is ever set in stone but you get the feeling that both Eddie and Jason know that they hadn't achieved all that they want to at AFCB and now they have the resources to really challenge anyone in NPower League 1 and possibly even the Championship.

When Nottingham Forest sacked their manager today, the second in 40 days, you kind of take it for granted that AFCB is now a steady ship. The feel good factor is back and the team is thriving on it. I hope everyone enjoys these days because they are the good days. Everyone knows the team can achieve something this season.

I was sad to see Paul Dickov also lost his job at Oldham this week, but I guess that is the manager's life.You are popular one week and then yesterday's news. So let's enjoy the good times at AFCB.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Macca's back!

Bournemouth's Vital Football site was quick to announce that Shaun MacDonald was back in training this morning to help AFCB's cause. There is no doubt that his return is a timely boost for the squad which has been picking up injuries of late.

Macca, who has not played since December when he was a regular first team pick will have his work cut out to get back into the first eleven straight away. In November and December he had struck up a great partnership with Harry Arter in the Middle of the park before he got the knee injury against Colchester Utd. Don't be surprised though if eventually it is Arter that makes way for Macca rather than Eunan O'Kane who has been playing with confidence since he came into the team. Arter has picked up lots of cautions and is likely to face a suspension sooner or later, leaving a space for Macca when he is up to speed.

How do we feel about Macca and O'Kane together in midfield? Macca is an assured passer and is perhaps uses his intelligence more than most to be in the right position. It's something that Richard Hughes is noted for and he will also be pushing for a place in the team. The only part of Macca's game that we would perhaps like to see more of is his confidence to shoot in front of goal, but I expect he will be keen to work on that and get his goal count up this season. Good luck to him when he enter the fray again.    

Check out a full Macca update on AFCB's website.


Between the sticks

It's the hardest position on the pitch in many ways, because there is no place to hide when things go wrong. Being a goal keeper takes a certain type of character, some would say a rather nutty character. Moreover, these days you have to be a good footballer as well as a shot stopper. 

There are usually a couple keepers battling for the one spot on the pitch every week, but in AFCB's case we have three first team keepers at the moment, David James, Shwan Jalal and Ryan Allsop with a possible fourth contender in Darryl Flahavan when he is available again. I am not too sure who most AFCB fans want to see in goal these days. All of our keepers have had their bad days and they have all made sensational saves. 

In the latest change David James has made way for Shwan Jalal, apparently because of his poor distribution in a few matches. I suspect the late misdirected goal kick in the Swindon Town game did not help David's case. But even seeing Jalal in the recent Crewe game at home I remember seeing Eddie Howe trying to get him to kick the ball towards the touchline, around the halfway line, when the short throw outs were coming under more and more pressure from the eager opposition forwards. There were a few gasps from the home crowd during the first half of the Crewe game when this happened, but the team survived unscathed.

There can be an advantage in having a shot stopper who can distribute the ball quickly and accurately to our back four, midfield or even the forwards if we want to mix it up now and again. The tactic pulls opposition players out of position and creates spaces to exploit. And we play from the back when we can and I must admit it is fabulous to watch when we play in this way with confidence and speed.

However, when we are tentative and the opposition is alive to the tactic it does surprise me that we continue to put our defenders under pressure when they look phased by the ball coming to them when they are being closely marked. Perhaps it is something that the team needs to improve on, so we become more at ease on the ball like the continentals. I also feel that goal keepers need to do more work these days on being comfortable with the ball at their feet. Just remember at the Sheffield United keeper's mistake the other week against Yeovil!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Harry Arter – the real deal?

There was a rather special moment on Saturday in the 84th minute of the game, when up stepped a Mr Harry Arter on the left to run onto a simply set up free kick by Matt Ritchie, some seven yards from the edge of the MK Dons' box. He dipped his left shoulder and with a quick and low back lift, he struck the ball with his left foot and it flew straight into the top left corner of the goal. It is already being talked about as a candidate for goal of the season and although AFCB are the top goal scorers in the league it is hard to think of any better so far this season for the club.

Harry himself has amassed a total of six goals this season if the AFCB website is up to date. He is the top ranked midfielder in this respect as Marc Pugh is named as a striker by the club. Pugh has seven goals by the way.

While Arter has been seen as a bit of a loose cannon at times he seems to be learning his craft with more panachΓ© and slightly better discipline this season. Sadly, Harry has still managed to pick up nine yellow cards and one red, but it is an improvement on last season when he had amassed 10 by Christmas. I feel he has become crucial to the club's promotion bid and was glad to see the Winter transfer window close with him remaining at AFCB.

There had been speculation of top tier teams like Fulham and West Ham casting their eye over the young 23 old. I am not sure that AFCB has many more gifted players, although Marc Pugh probably holds that crown. Still, Arter's role as play maker in the middle of the field is getting attention and not just from the Cherries fans.

I tweeted BBC Radio Solent only a couple of weeks ago stating that AFCB must hold onto Harry Arter if we are to challenge for the top places in the division this year. I was told that it would really depend on the price whether or not the club would sell him. Thankfully, no bids came in and the club didn't have that decision to make.

Over the summer it may of course be different. But if AFCB are to reach their goal this season of gaining promotion to the Championship, I for one will expect to see Mr Arter score a few more sweet left footed gems from outside the area next season.

Sunday, 3 February 2013


I sent a tweet out to Stephane Zubar who is on loan at Bury FC stating that I hoped Eddie Howe gives him a call with our injury worries mounting at the back. To my surprise Stephane tweeted back, and said that AFCB would be fine and have a massive squad. AFCB tweeters are buzzing with yesterday’s win.


Friday 1st February 2013

You join us just over half way through the 2012-13 season. As usual we have had a rollercoaster of a journey that has seen the Cherries just come off of a record run of 17 games unbeatean that was first dented by Wigan in the FA Cup and then shattered by Walsall in a surprisingly lackluster performance in the Black Country. Since then we have returned to winning ways with victory over Hartlepool and Crewe Alexander and excitement has been raised by the arrival of Matt Ritchie from Swindon only two days ago as the winter transfer window underlined AFCB’s ambition and spending power once again to build a team that can perhaps see us into the Championship.

It was a strange transfer window as we usually fear losing our best players, having been a feeder club for many years. Things are different now. The club held onto the players it wanted to keep and has allowed its experiment in Dutch signings to leave with best wishes. The Paul Groves era was perhaps not the club’s finest with many signings that did not seem to gel. Frank Demogue and Lorenzo Davids did not get much of a run out in English football and were perhaps not right for the club, although Eddie Mitchell has spoken out this week in the press that Frank Demogue was not a dud! A player that has won the hearts of the fans is Stephan Zubar and while he has started a new on loan spell at Bury we wonder why he has not had more of an opportunity to be in the side. But in Eddie we trust. Our manager has made a team of players that came with high credentials but no team spirit into a football machine that is storming its way through the division. Eddie Howe and Jason have galvanized the team. The out of sorts Wes Thomas has also left the club on loan to Birmingham after successful loan spells at Portsmouth and Blackpool in the Championship. Shame he hadn’t scored for the Cherries since last March. We now have new talent in the form of Ryan Fraser, the new winger sensation from Aberdeen and Ryan Allsopp who is a top young keeper from Orient.

The big signing though was Matt Ritchie. Ritchie scored 23 goals in 91 appearances for Town. He was apparently allowed to join us after Swindon Town FC needed the new owners to save their club from entering administration with the sale. So we got Ritchie on the cheap it seems at  500,000 if you read the news reports. I got a retweet saying that it was not the two million Di Canio had said he was worth last year, but I miss-spelt the Italian maestro’s name, oops. I guess it does not matter so much with social media as long as the sentiment is there. Another tweet said that Ritchie must be the price Swindon had had to pay up following the breakage they caused to the away team dugout at the Goldsands Stadium a few weeks ago, lol.

Our next game is against MK Dons. It won’t be an easy one at their place but the new signings will hopefully give us the momentum we need to go and get a result. I expect the travelling fans to be one of our biggest crowds of the season as the Dons are also riding high in the league and we need to take points off of them. The recent draws at Brentford and against Swindon Town were disappointing, that is how far we have come. AFCB wants to win games and I hope we can keep the run going now until the end of the season. Doncaster and Tranmere have set a good pace at the top of the league and we need to keep them in sight if we are to snatch an automatic promotion place off of them.

Tonight, Sheffield united take on Coventry in a top seven game. It would be helpful if it were a draw of if the blades slip up, but we will see.

I was given a tweet reply from Marc Pugh tonight who wished me well for the weekend. I told him all games are big now until the end of the season. He is amazing Marc, always has time for the fans and a family man.